The bad thing about the Borders discounts…

Cemetery DanceI feel kind of bad, and for some reason it feels weird. I am reading a book, you know. Not just any book. I started reading “Cemetery Dance” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, two of my favorite thriller authors. But that’s not why I feel bad. It is because I am actually reading it as a paperback!

I think I heard you gasp right there, did I not? Yeah, I know… It’s been moths since I read a print book. Many months. Many, many months, in fact — and it feels awkward.

I’ve been reading books on my Kindle for 2 years now and I have been editing and revising my own books on the iPad for months now. It’s all been digital and I am simply not used to reading print any more. If you laugh now, when was the last time you read a physical book?

It all came about because of Borders’ closing. Over the weekend I visited their Pasadena stores, which is scheduled to close, and began to browse their bookshelves. Everything 25 – 50% off! May books for as little as one dollar.

It was hard to resist, even though I didn’t really like the situation as a whole. See, I love Borders. Their warm, welcoming no-pressure atmosphere, complete with occasional live music and author readings, is just the greatest thing ever. Even after owning a Kindle I still visited their store frequently and gave them my patronage, buying books for my own research library, books for the kids, books to donate to the school library, anything I could do to help keep them in business.

Sadly all those buttheads leeching off the store’s generosity didn’t feel the same kind of obligation. Reading entire books for free, doing research, studies and homework for hours, days and weeks on end, checking out the latest magazine issues — all of it without ever actually buying a copy. Instead some of those morons even had the audacity to complain about the lack of free refills in the coffee shop.

It pains me to see how this company has been exploited by its own customers to the point of delinquency. It boggles my mind that people are so self-centered that they never seem to be abele to think beyond their own egoistical needs. Their sense of entitlement is bigger than their sense of responsibility. It’s every bit as retarded as the guy who cuts you off on the freeway and then flips you off when you give him a flash him as a warning to prevent an actual fender-bender.

I felt terrible, not only for the employees who kept diligently trying to keep the shelves in order. For some reason everyone seems to think this store is now a free-for-all and it is okay to just drop books on the floor or to shove them in any free shelf you might find. The store employees can barely keep up with the mess the riffraff leaves behind in their wake. Shameful!

But I also felt bad for purchasing the discounted books. Are you nuts? You might ask, but the problem is that in this kind of sale — remember Borders has filed for chapter 11 — the monies from sales are actually not going to Borders but to a liquidator instead. The liquidator’s job is to try and male as much money from Borders’ assets and inventory — and in a limited amount of time. The liquidator then pays the people that Borders is owing money to. Typically in proceedings like this, however they will only pay about 20 cents to the dollar. So, if Borders owed me $1,000, for example, I would get paid only around $200 even though I have provided services and products worth the full $1,000.

To put it in plain English — everyone gets screwed. Everyone except the liquidator who skims his own payment in full off the top — naturally.

That is why I feel bad when buying these discounted books, because I know that the authors, being the last link in the chain, will end up seeing even less of their minuscule royalties. I mean, A LOT less… Pretty much nothing, actually, as publishers typically have contract clauses in place that make sure they do not have to share revenues from such sales. As I said, everyone gets screwed.

I still could not resist and bought three books, but in all honesty, now that I think about it, I could have bought them as Kindle books instead — at the same price most likely — I feel even worse, because if I had, at least the authors would have made some decent money on the sales. Bummer… I apologize. I will restrain myself next time.


One Reply to “The bad thing about the Borders discounts…”

  1. Peter S. Hart

    It’s tough, watching a store go out of business. Any store becomes, over the time that you have gone there, an important part of your life. To see it go through the chaos of dissolution can hurt. I have worked in retail stores, so I know what it’s like to keep the shelves in order.

    However, it wasn’t greedy customers who wanted free coffee who drove Border’s to bankruptcy; it was bad corporate management. But it’s the customers and employees of individual stores who will suffer the most. It always is.

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